Thinking of Slacking Off for Summer?
Kids Music Lessons Are Year Round
Every year as summer comes around in New England and the world comes alive again I hear murmurings of plans being contemplated by a handful of students and even the occasional parent to take the summer off from private music lessons. Unfortunately, from this I must recoil in horror! I’m aghast at the idea that after working hard all year, or most of it, any of my students or their parents would just be OK with giving back 75% of the hard-won gains we made. And that’s really what happens, when just relaxing and enjoying the ten weeks of summer vacation sounds so attractive that we decide we should put the instrument down until school starts – it is almost always akin to dialing back the clock a few months and regressing rather than progressing. Psst… It’s OK, you didn’t need that 600 bucks you just dropped all year on those clarinet lessons, did ya?
Get There When You Can
I know, it’s a tempting proposition for parents, too. The summer seems like a good time to relinquish unnecessary responsibilities, including having to make sure the kids are somewhere at a certain time every week. But as we just established, it’s really not good for the development of our young musicians to take such a break. Most instructors, thankfully, do understand that families make plans and that summer is too short not to take every opportunity to make some memories. This means that no matter how strict your teacher’s cancellation policy is during the year, you are probably going to get a bit of leeway as far as cancellations go during July and August. Even if you plan to be gone for 4 out of ten weeks, it’s much better to stay on the schedule and attend the remaining 6 lessons than it is to cancel the whole season.
Put A New Spin On It
I have found that a proactive approach can help avoid complacency and fight boredom when it comes to summer lessons. I usually offer a more intensive “guitar boot camp” approach for the warm months, where I may see a student twice a week even – or offer a more challenging or exciting curriculum, such as an improvisation workshop or an ear training study. Maybe we will take a short break for a couple weeks from the sight-reading portion of our routine. Any or all of these propositions serves to generate a little excitement or ramp up the interest level a bit, and just generally make things fun! For younger students who haven’t yet gotten to the point where they are finding other people to play with, sometimes I will introduce their parents and pair them off for every-other lesson of the summer, taking advantage of the freedom in their schedule to allow us to run “jam lessons” where we work on collaborating musically. This is a great time for everyone!
Just Takes A Little Creativity…
There are a lot of ways we can come up with to inject a little new energy into our normal flow; to make private lessons something to look forward to all summer. We can choose to focus on playing together, assemble a rock band, work on our ears, explore the vast and deep realms of improvisation…even dedicate a couple months to working on technique and set some speed goals for September. We could really scare our teacher and decide to work like crazy on our reading chops…but only if that’s what little Suzy’s into! The point is to take a potential negative (the growth-inhibiting prospect of a summer with no lessons), and replace it with a huge positive, some sort of catalyst for taking some big forward leaps and leveling up on our instrument in time to impress everyone in the jazz band this fall.
If this sounds like it might be what your developing pop-star or future jazz leader needs this year, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a text message to 203.501.8874 and you will get a call back from me during my very next free moment with the calendar. Summer is a great time to jump onto my schedule, the teaching day opens up a lot when we don’t have to work around the school-day. Can’t wait to hear from you – come claim your spot today!